Tuesday, March 19, 2013
UAE ship operators must remain vigilant to stop gangs renewing their attacks on merchant ships, experts advise.
"Piracy remains a threat because there continues to be reports of
pirate craft operating in the Arabian Sea and nearby waters," said
Pottengal Mukundan, the director of the International Maritime Bureau
"Thanks to the efforts of the navies, on-board private
armed security and other measures, they have not been successful in
hijacking vessels. But there is no room for complacency: vessels must
continue to be vigilant."
After the recent release of two tankers,
the UAE-owned MV Royal Grace and the MV Smyrni, IMB figures show there
are 65 crew being held by Somali pirates. Of the hostages, 48 men are
being held on ships and 17 onshore.
The seized ships are Malaysian-flagged MV Albedo, held since November
2011, the Omani-flagged FV Naham, held since March last year, two dhows
and a fishing vessel. Piracy became lucrative in Somalia in the 1990s.
Somalis say piracy stemmed from conflicts between local fishermen and
foreign trawlers that illegally fished and dumped toxic waste off its
The formation of a government after the September elections
last year promises an end to civil war, insurgencies and inter-clan
conflict more than 20 years after the ouster of the dictator Siad Barre
The UAE has supported efforts to bring stability and
peace to Somalia. At international piracy conferences, UAE
representatives have backed programmes that strengthen communities and
provide employment to stabilise the area.
The country's support
has boosted counter-piracy efforts, said Saeed Rageh, the minister for
ports and counter-piracy of Puntland, a semi-autonomous region of
Somalia. "The people of Puntland are indebted to the UAE and we are
thankful for the support," Mr Rageh said. "The support from the UAE
through training and logistics has greatly built the capacity of our
maritime security force."
The UAE's support also helped the
Puntland Maritime Police Force to rescue 22 hostages from a UAE ship,
the MV Iceberg 1, in December, he said.
Mr Rageh said Puntland had
identified eight points of security concern on its coastline. Patrol
and speedboats, maritime surveillance equipment and communications
systems were needed to continue its push against piracy.
this, he said, "we fear that the unrest on the sea will spring back to
life and that the pirates have hibernated to search for more
sophisticated ways and tactics".
He added: "We need to prepare well, we need to join hands and end this inhuman act."